Human rights activist, Femi Falana (SAN), has threatened to initiate contempt proceedings against the federal government officials supervising the petroleum sector over the rising fuel prices.
This is in reaction to a statement by the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Timipre Sylva, who claimed that the price of kerosene had already been deregulated while presenting a scorecard of the administration from 2015 till date.
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In a statement on Sunday, Falana said the Supreme Court had in the suit between Bamidele Aturu v Minister of Petroleum Resources and the Attorney General of The Federation (Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/591/2009), ruled the deregulation of the downstream sector of the petroleum industry to be unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.
He said the court then ordered the federal government to desist from failing to fix the prices of petroleum products as mandatorily required by the Petroleum Act and the Price Control Act and to publish regularly the prices of petroleum products.
Falana, who is the chairman of the Alliance on Surviving Covid-19 and Beyond (ASCAB), said Sylva and the federal government were legally obligated by the combined effect of Section 4 of the Price Control Act and Section 316 of the Petroleum Industry Act to determine and fix the prices of the commodities.
“In view of the clear statutory provisions and decided cases on the illegality of the deregulation of any aspect of the petroleum industry, the federal government should stop subjecting the Nigerian people to excruciating economic crisis by allowing the so-called market forces to determine and fix the prices of petroleum products in the country,” he said.
“We call on President Muhammadu Buhari, as the Minister of Petroleum Resources, to call Chief Sylva to order for treating the valid and subsisting judgments of the Federal High Court and the Supreme Court with contempt.”